Thursday 20 December 2012

SALES Engineer or Sales ENGINEER?

What’s in a title you may ask, a great deal when it comes to the ability of a successful Sales Engineer.

We have frequent discussions with Managing Directors, Operations Managers and Product Managers all regarding the same issue ‘are they a sales person, a technical consultant or possibly both?’

If we consider a company selling a technically complex piece of capital machinery to a specific industry where the sales process could possibly take up to 12 months do we need an ‘off-the shelf’ sales person?


An initial consultation request from a ‘warm lead’ comes in involving a technical presentation, benefits and ROI for the equipment. The SALES Engineer is primed and dragging out a System Engineer they head to the meeting to make sure the customer is brought on. During the meeting the note book fills with questions needed to be chased up at a later date but will this lose the sale?

By taking two members out on the visit we invest heavily in the meeting but has this secured the sale and given the potential customer the reassurance in the service?

A Game of Two Halves:

When looking at the ability of a Sales ENGINEER we may not need to send out the System Engineer as all angles could be covered but would they have the commercial sense to secure the sale?

So the outcome is that we need a combination of SALES ENGINEER!

To find a ‘great’ technical sales person we should consider the following:

Review the academic experience and the complexities of any study taken in the past

Previous projects dealt with and the length of time they were responsible for this

Recent ‘wins’ and who was involved (a clear indicator on sales ability)

If dealing with a Product Manager did they have a clear understanding of possibilities and limitations?

The support they have had in the past from technical teams

Another common comment is that ‘over promise and under deliver’ can occur when under pressure to secure the sale. Transparency is essential when committing to the pitch, simple comments like ‘if we need it to do this’ or ‘can it be installed by’ should happily and confidently be answered with specific solutions.

With so many factors to consider from an employer perspective it is essential that any relevant background should contain a clear and accountable report of ability. Previous employers will play a part where relevance to product or service is considered but looking for ability is essential to gaining the right vessel for future development.

Written by Stephen Minney
Lead Consultant within Automation and Process Control at Aaron Wallis
After spending 8 years in the Army he joined the technical division of Aaron Wallis

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